County seeks $6 million grant to upgrade emergency radio system

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 August 2018 at 4:00 pm

Radio towers would be added in Lyndonville and Kendall with boosted coverage in Holley

Photo by Tom Rivers: Moving telecommunications equipment from a tower in Clarendon to the Holley water tank on Route 237 would improve coverage in Holley without hurting Clarendon, county officials were told by a consultant on Wednesday.

ALBION – Orleans County is seeking $6 million in state funding to upgrade the emergency communications system by adding towers in Carlton and Lyndonville, and also move the equipment from a tower in Clarendon to the Holley water tower.

The grant would also pay for software and other upgrades for the system, which serves firefighters, law enforcement, highway employees, probation and some other municipal workers in the county.

The system currently has poor coverage in the Holley area, along Lake Ontario and some other isolated locations in the county, especially in buildings with thick walls.

The County Legislature on Wednesday voted to seek a grant through the 2018 Statewide Interoperable Communications Targeted Grant through the NYS Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Office. The state is allowing a maximum of $6 million per county for the grants.

Tim Warth, a consultant for the county with Radio Technologies, said Orleans is one of 10 counties in the state identified as “in need.”

The proposed project would also improve interoperability with neighboring counties, allowing personnel to cross county boundaries and still have a radio signal.

The two new 180-foot-high towers in Lyndonville and Kendall would enhance coverage by the lake, and allow a lower strength signal so Orleans isn’t interfering with Canada’s system, Warth said.

Warth put together a budget for the project that total $5,880,730, just below the $6 million cap.

If Orleans is approved for funding this grant cycle, Warth said the county could pursue additional money from the state for phase 2 that would include a tower in Carlton and also in Albion by the Public Safety Building.

In the cunty application for funding, Warth states the $5,880,730 project would represent 8.6 percent of the county budget in 2016, compared to 1.5 percent of Niagara’s and 0.3 percent of Monroe County’s.

“This project is not possible without financial support,” Warth said.

He also said Orleans has received far less in state funding for emergency communications in the past five years than other nearby counties. The grant funding from the state totals $2.9 million for Orleans, compared to $10.1 million for Genesee, $10.7 million for Livingston, $4.1 million for Niagara, $5.1 million for Erie and $12.1 million for Monroe.

“There is quite a disparity with other counties,” Warth said.

The county’s application is due Aug. 31 with the grants to be announced in late September or October.

“We’re very confident we’ll get a large portion of the grant,” Warth told county legislators.

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